In his first official address to the nation after he was sworn in as the country's next head of state, President Emil Lahhoud outlined his political orientations. In parliament, Lahhoud addressed some 124 deputies and parliamentarians of Lebanese origin from Cyprus, Chile, Brazil, Canada, and the US.
In his speech to deputies, Lahhoud set his main priorities as law enforcement, a clean judiciary and an administration subject to strict supervision free of political and confessional interference.
Lahhoud pledged to safeguard the country's independence and sovereignty and to respect the constitution and the laws of the Lebanese State. The president also vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails. No one is allowed to be above the law including himself, Lahhoud stressed.
Lahhoud said he did not have a magic stick to change everything but promised to work towards fulfilling the aspirations of the Lebanese people. The president also said Lebanon rejects any peace deal with Israel without Syria reiterating the unity of the Lebanese-Syrian tracks in the peace process. Lahhoud also praised the role of Syria and singled out Israel as the enemy of Lebanon.
Lahhoud stressed Lebanon will not grant Israel any kind of security guarantees or arrangements adding Israel must withdraw unconditionally from South Lebanon and the Western Bekaa in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425.
Shortly after the presidential oath session, Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad telephoned Lebanon's new head of state congratulating him on his official accession to the presidency of the Lebanese Republic.
Assad pledged to work alongside Lebanon for the liberation of all Israeli-occupied territories in Syria and Lebanon. The Syrian President also reiterated his country's support to Lebanon in all fields. Assad also hoped all success for Lebanon during the new presidential term.
For his part, Lahhoud thanked the Syrian Leader for his country's ongoing support to Lebanon stressing the brotherly ties between the two countries.
Washington welcomed Lahhoud's official accession to the presidency of the state expressing hope of boosting bilateral cooperation between the US and Lebanon. US Secretary of State Spokesman, James Rubin, said Lahhoud's leadership qualities would help him as a president.
Rubin added the US hopes to cooperate with Lebanon's new president on a variety of levels that are of common interest to both countries. The US spokesman also noted the progress achieved in Lebanon in the last few years. He added a lot is still to be done to boost governmental institutions, the process of reconstruction and true national reconciliation in the country.
In his congratulatory message to President Emil Lahhoud, French President Jacques Chirac reiterated his country will always be faithful to its friendly ties with Lebanon. He also stressed France's support for President Lahhoud adding his success is the success of the whole country.
Chirac hoped Lahhoud's expected visit to France at the beginning of next year would be a chance to boost bilateral ties between the two countries. The French President added Lahhoud's message to the Lebanese on the day of his election outlined his future policies. He also said Paris would always stress the importance of Lebanon's independence and sovereignty.
In his message to Lebanon's new president, Iranian Leader Mohammed Khatemi hoped all Lebanese territories would be liberated as soon as possible from Israeli occupation. He added this would enable Lebanon to develop and progress. The Iranian president said Lebanon will always remain a pattern of peaceful coexistence of different confessional groups.
For his part, the Secretary General of the Arab League, Issmat Abdel Majid said the Lebanese people's consensus around Lahhoud proves their trust in him and their belief in his capability to lead the country and liberate its occupied territories.
Lahhoud also received a similar congratulatory letter from his counterpart in Indonesia, Behareddine Youssef Habibi. The Indonesian president expected bilateral ties between the two countries would be upgraded during Lahhoud's term.
House Speaker Nabih Berri described President Emil Lahhoud's unanimous election by parliament on October 15 as unprecedented in the history of the country. Berri also praised the achievements of Lahhoud as an army commander.
Berri told deputies Lahhoud succeeded in building the Lebanese army after the civil war. He also noted Lahhoud's ongoing support for the Lebanese Resistance.
The House Speaker added he had not expected such a forthright and courageous address" from the new leader. The speaker called the 20-minute speech a "rebirth for the Lebanese".
President Emil Lahhoud yesterday issued the first presidential statement demanding that the government remain in care-taking capacity until a new government is formed.
In line with the Lebanese constitution, Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today handed his government's resignation during his first official meeting with Lahhoud after he was sworn in yesterday.
Hariri described Lahhoud's speech in parliament as very positive adding he traced in his speech true Lebanese wishes for change and the rule of law. But Hariri denied to reporters that discussions with Lahhoud centered on the next government's make-up.
President Emil Lahhoud is to start parliamentary consultations tomorrow. The president will hold meetings with MPs over a period of two days and Lahhoud will then designate the next Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nabih Berri today reportedly expected the next government would be made up of 16 ministers. The current cabinet consists of 30.
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